Jen Chen

Associate Producer, Central Standard

Ways to Connect

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

Last fall, after he was laid off from The Kansas City Star, Yael Abouhalkah did what many journalists do: he started a blog and continued to cover local and national politics.

That is, until couple of weeks ago, when he announced that he and his wife are heading to Namibia to be Peace Corps volunteers.

They’re leaving mid-August for a 27-month stint in southwest Africa.

Some of the exciting stuff on KC's arts calendar this month: an artist residency at the Nelson-Atkins; a three-person, 90-minute version of Macbeth; and a chat with soul singer Julia Haile.

Haile will be performing Gen Listen KC's Stockyards Sounds on Tuesday, August 8.

Guests:

Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin / Flickr -- CC

There once was a time when "sausage" meant links or patties served with pancakes.

Not anymore, especially in Kansas City. We’ve seen a lot more sausage variety over the past few years.

“I think it’s part of the butchery trend,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “We have more and more chefs who are opening great butcher shops. With this return to artisan do-it-yourself butchery, sausage is a really incredible way to use up all the pieces and parts.”

Timothy Vollmer / Flickr -- CC

A local chef tells us about the white barbecue sauce that he'll be serving at his new restaurant; a New York food writer discovered that Kansas City has the best cinnamon rolls; then the Food Critics search out the best sausages in and around town.

Guests:

Dave Loewenstein

Jul 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's traveled around the Midwest to translate other people's stories into art that lives on city walls. Now we hear muralist Dave Loewenstein's story.

Guest:

Pauline Mak / Flickr -- CC

What’s the mark of a good bakery?

“You can taste when butter is used,” Food Critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “You can tell when real ingredients are used. It has a very different taste compared to something you get in a supermarket.”

Logan, along with critics Charles Ferruzza and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best bakeries — and best baked goods — in and around Kansas City this year.

Here are their recommendations:

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

From hearty loaves of bread to sweets from around the world, local bakeries are doing interesting things.

We talk to a local bakery customer about his weekly order for a loaf of challah — and about the tradition and ritual around buying bread. We also visit a bakery that makes treats from around the Americas, then the Food Critics search out the best baked goods in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

In food circles, there have been a lot of questions about the idea of authenticity and appropriation. We explore the intersection of food, race and culture.

Guests:

The similarities between Native American and Middle Eastern cultures, as told by poets in a new anthology that was published here. Then, two of the musicians from the local band Making Movies; their new album, I Am Another You, just made it onto the Billboard and Billboard Latin Charts.

Guests:

What is Midwestern cuisine? Church fare, like Jello salad, or comfort food like mac n' cheese? A local chef and a Food Network chef who brings Midwestern fare to the masses join us to explore what it is and how that's changed. 

Plus, upon Bill Gilbert's recently passing, we look back at his legacy and the Gilbert/Robinson restaurant empire, which gave us Houlihan's, The Bristol, Plaza III, Fred P. Ott's, Annie's Santa Fe and more.

Guests:

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentation: A visit to Nazareth Sweets, which is in a part of Lenexa that's becoming a "Middle Eastern strip," and a culinary instructor talks about a beloved Syrian dish that she grew up eating.

Then, the Food Critics search out the best Middle Eastern food in and around KC.

Guests:

PAUL ANDREWS (PAULANDREWSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

When you're falling in love, spending time apart can seem unbearable. Kansas City-born musician Krystle Warren has been away from her first love, her hometown, for a long time. She shares her story of finding a new home in Paris when her heart was still in the plains. 

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Music: Krystle Warren

José Faus

Jun 16, 2017
Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When he first immigrated to KC from Colombia at age 9, it was a shock. Since then, he's become a mainstay in Kansas City's art community as a poet, painter, playwright and mentor. On this show, we get to know José Faus.

Guest:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

When Makeda Peterson was growing up, history was personal to her.

Her father, Horace Peterson III, founded the Black Archives of Mid-America. He also started Kansas City’s Juneteenth celebration in 1980.

As a current organizer and coordinator of Juneteenth KC, she is continuing his legacy.

Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- CC

Once, our idea of healthy eating revolved around the salad bowl.

But we’ve discovered that some salads can be deceptively unhealthy … and that there are other satisfying options on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics explored what “healthy eating” really means.

“I believe there are so many personal definitions of what ‘healthy’ is,” Lisa Murphy told host Gina Kaufmann. “Every individual has to make their own choice and have their own personal philosophy.”

Pseph / Flickr -- CC

What exactly is healthy food? Definitions can vary. On this show: a visit to T. Loft, then a local scientist says that salt has gotten a bad rap for years; many of us should eat more salt, not less.

We also look into the healthy restaurant trend, and our Food Critics and a dietitian search out the best healthy dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

Liz West / Flickr -- CC

A look at some of the exciting art stuff coming up in June: a local reggae band that's performing at the Crossroads Jammin' Reggae Fest, then the artist known as Boi Boy, whose show, "Select Username and Password" opens tonight.

Plus: remember writing letters? Actual handwritten ones? We'll talk with the owner of a Lawrence print shop who created a monthly letter-writing club.

Guests:

Ralph Daily / Flickr -- CC

Summer grilling season is upon us. Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be firing up the backyard grill, cold beverage in hand.

But what exactly is grilling? KCUR’s Food Critics defined it on Friday’s Central Standard.

“It’s over hot fire or coals,” Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann.

“Grilling is not barbeque,” added Charles Ferruzza. “The main difference is the speed. Grilling can be pretty fast. Barbeque is a slow-cooker thing.”

Grilling In KC

May 26, 2017
Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

To kick off the summer grilling season: a visit to a Brazilian steakhouse, where the meat goes from grill to table in under 15 minutes; how to grill non-meat items (romaine lettuce and eggs in the shell); then our Food Critics search out the best grilled dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

PAUL ANDREWS / WWW.PAULANDREWSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

William Least Heat-Moon takes us on a trip across America's forgotten rural routes, through history, away from our digital devices and into the universe.

 

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The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." In this encore presentation, a chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared some of the highlights from this past spring with host Gina Kaufmann:

The Marmot / Flickr -- CC

Summer's on the horizon. And as temperatures start to rise, our thoughts turn to the drinks and dishes that'll help keep us cool.

From an old-school shrimp cocktail to spring rolls — and, of course, don't forget ice cream and shaved ice — KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in Kansas City on Central Standard.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Cecilia Rodriguez / Flickr -- CC

We got a little a preview of summer this week, and man, it was hot. To help keep us cool when the humidity kicks in: a visit to Polly's Soda Pop, an iconic Independence soft drink company that re-opened last year, then a local coffee shop owner talks about nitro coffee (and other cold beverages).

The Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in KC, plus the latest restaurant news from this past spring.

Guests:

Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Meet two violinists. One started Kansas City's tango scene before moving to Argentina, and the other is a prominent jazz fiddler. Then, hear the story behind the song, "Under the Sun."

Guests:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Every city has that one bookstore, the irreverent corner shop where literary types plot revolutions. In Kansas City, that bookstore is Prospero's, owned by Will Leathem. Leathem took a surprising path to becoming a used book salesman.

 

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Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Why did the old-school Jewish deli go away ... and why are people interested in reviving it now? Then, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best sandwiches in and around Kansas City in 2017.

Guests:

Candice Millard

Apr 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

She's a bestselling author who has written books about James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. We talk with Candice Millard about how she found her niche of writing about the lesser-known incidents in a historical figure's life, and how her work and her life have intersected.

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